Andrew McPeak: Preparing Students for Real Life

Andrew McPeak is a millennial speaker and Vice President of Content for Growing Leaders. He talks with us about how educators can better prepare their students for real life.

By SchoolCEO Last Updated: November 16, 2023


Andrew McPeak is a millennial speaker and Vice President of Content for Growing Leaders. His experiences as a researcher, speaker, and content designer have led him to become well versed in communicating to and about the next generation. In this conversation, he discusses Generation Z and how educators can better prepare their students for real life.


As part of a mini-series on generations, Andrew explores how school leaders can think critically about what is best for students today and beyond their K-12 years. Andrew is the author of Ready for Real Life: Unpacking the Five Essential Soft Skills Great Leaders Instill in Their Students and the co-author of Generation Z: Unfiltered. Both books are practical and academic— or as he puts it “prac-ademic.” 

This episode is centered on students and yet still highlights an opportunity for school leaders to market their schools to their community from parents to businesses as they prepare students for the right soft skills to be successful in real life.


Andrew McPeak (Guest)(Intro Quote): When you spend a lot of time with kids, you realize a couple of things. One is the lack of ownership thing. I think kids are going through life and they feel like, I am living mom and Dad's life, I am living my teacher's life. My whole world has been designed by them. And what happens is they get through college, they get into their first job. Finally it's all up to them and they feel absolutely paralyzed. And that is reflected not only in the conversations we have with students, but also we do a whole lot with corporate America as well because they're hiring us all the time and going, please help us come and understand how to lead these Gen Z kids who are leaving college and coming into our workplaces, and they're saying the exact same thing. Kids are very intelligent, smartest kids we've ever seen. They have no idea how to function in our workplace. They don't know how to work on a team, they don't know how to show up to work on time. They don't know how to dress appropriately. They don't know how all these and those used to be called executive functioning skills. But to me, what I think is really happening, the sort of inspiration behind this is a generation of kids who are growing up in a world where we have so focused on academics, and I'm not a downer on academics, I think they're actually really important. But we've so focused on academics and we've lost sight of the need for some of these skills and we've lost sight of it in the face of a shifting culture that is making it harder and harder to find these skills naturally.

Tyler Vawser (Host): I'm Tyler Vawser, part of the SchoolCEO team here at Apptegy. We publish original perspectives and research that helps school leaders build a strong identity for their schools. Along the way, we have conversations with superintendents and other K12 leaders, marketing experts, and more to help you brand and market your schools in a highly competitive environment. Published quarterly in print and online, SchoolCEO is the only magazine focused on marketing in K12 public education and this is SchoolCEO Conversations Marketing for School Leaders. 

In this episode of SchoolCEO Conversations, I speak with Andrew McPeak. He's a sought after millennial communicator who brings a unique generational perspective to audiences. He's the co author of Dr. Tim Elmore's latest book, Generation Z: Unfiltered, and he has shared insights from this resource with educators, coaches, and business leaders from around the country. His new book, Ready for Real Life? Unpacking the Five Essential Soft Skills Great Leaders Instill in Their Students is what we spend most of this conversation discussing. And what I love about it is how practical it is, not just for educators that are working with students, but for educators that are working with parents to help their sons and their daughters develop these important soft skills. Not just soft skills to do well academically, but soft skills that will help them throughout their life. And so as you listen to this, I think it'll give you some encouragement that you're not on your own as you help these students, but also gives you the words and the language to be able to help parents and families engage their kids as well. Let's join the conversation. 

Andrew McPeak, thank you so much for joining SchoolCEO Conversations.

Andrew McPeak (Guest): Tyler, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Tyler Vawser (Host):  Awesome. Glad to have you here. Well, I've just finished your book. I'm holding it up for you to see it, and I really appreciate you sending me a couple of copies. After we had our first chat, you were kind enough to send me these, and I really enjoyed it. What I thought was interesting about it was how practical it is and just some of the angles and perspectives that you don't often hear when we're thinking about students and success. We're thinking about college and grades and jobs, but a lot of this was really about soft skills. And so just a note to say, I really appreciate the perspective that you took.

Andrew McPeak:Thanks, Tyler. I really appreciate that. We have a made up word here at growing leaders called pracademic. Right. We want to be super academic in how we think about things, but I also want to be really practical. So that really was the driving force for me is like, if a regular teacher in a regular classroom was going to get something out of this book, what would I want them to get? And sort of thinking from that mindset that, that's amazing.

Tyler Vawser:  I know you spend a lot of time with people that are leading students. So coaches, teachers, principals, superintendents, what are you seeing and hearing from those leaders that are working with students?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, we get around a lot. A lot. And especially post pandemic now we're a few years away from the pandemic. What I hear more people talking about more and more is, number one, how overwhelmed and exhausted and tired I think a lot of teachers are. I think especially coming out of all the challenges we were coming out of, we just kind of kept putting more and more and more on teachers. And so the conversations, the calls we get from heads of schools now is my teachers are out of gas. Can you come help refill the tank? Right. So that's a big one. The other one that I'm hearing when I talk to teachers is they say kids are behind. And sometimes they mean behind academically, but what they mean most of the time is they're behind in terms of maturity. And I think lots of kids certainly lost academic years, but I think a lot of them lost maturity years as well. And especially the older the kids are that you're working with, the more that lack of maturity is going to show up. And so those are the conversations we're having these days about how do we refresh and renew our passion for what we're doing, make sure we're taking care of ourselves, but also talk about how do we develop leaders in the classroom, not just earn A's and B's in the classroom.

Tyler Vawser:  Yeah, it's really good. I know we love to talk about generations. So at our SchoolCEO Conference, we've had Kit malier join us, and it usually resonates really well. One, because we're all part of a generaTion, we all have these influences and backgrounds. And what's interesting to me is how the conversation about generations has kind of shifted. Right. We've been talking about millennials for what feels like millennia, but it's started to shift from millennials to Generation Z. And you've written extensively about Generation Z in your book, and I would love for you to just talk a little bit more about that. Right. And let's start diving into this. Gen Z, which is not as well known to a lot of us because we've spent so much time exploring what millennials are like.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, I always joke with people that lots of places I go, people think they're still working with millennials, and I tell them, millennials, you're not working on millennials, you're working with millennials. They're literally in the classroom next to you right now, because millennials are in their 20s and 30s, soon to be 40s, it won't be long. So, yeah, Gen Z are the kids that we're leading in our classrooms today. And there's even a younger generation coming up behind them. But whenever we talk about generations, it can be sort of overwhelming. So we like to make it as simple as possible. I used an acronym, and I know acronyms never sound very academic, but they're very helpful memory devices. 

So I used an acronym to help us get kind of a clear picture of who Generation Z is. So it's seven words that spell the word picture. So the characteristics we see, and each of these are sort of in contrast with what we saw with millennials. The first one, P, in P.I.C.T.U.R.E,, is private. The second one, I, stands for irreverent. And you wouldn't have to look hard to see their irreverence for the ways of the past. Number three, the letter C is creative, so less. They're certainly consuming, but they're also very creative in how they express themselves. The letter T stands for taxed, and we're really talking about anxiousness there that we've all been talking about. The letter U in picture is unleashed. We sort of unleashed them into the world. Or rather, I think it's more appropriate to say we've unleashed the world onto them. And of course, I'm talking about technology and social media now. Chat, GPT, all of those things. The letter R stands for Restless. And I mean this quite literally. These kids are getting less sleep than any generation ever studied. And I think that a lack of sleep, as well as just their restlessness towards life in general, is having some effects. And then that final letter, E, is a word that we've all been familiar with, which is entitled, but I think it's taken on a whole new meaning in some ways for Generation Z.

Tyler Vawser:  I’d love to dig in on a few of those. So the ones that stood out to me the most were P private, T taxed, and E entitled. Do you mind digging into each of those three a little bit more?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, I'd love to. So the word private is really interesting. When I use the word private, I'm really using it in contrast with how millennials first engaged in the Internet. Right? If you're a millennial like me, I'm 34 as we're talking here. And when I was growing up in high school, social media starts to appear on the scene. And the tendency for kids back then was you go to a party on Friday night, you take 34 photos, and you get on social media, and you post all 34 photos unedited. You just drop them. And Gen Z comes along with Snapchat and some of the filters that they have on Instagram and TikTok and all of that. And they take 34 photos just like we did, but they pick the best one. Then they run it through several filters, and they present the version of themselves that they want you to see. 

That was one thing that was so interesting in all the research we did. I would sit down with focus groups of kids in middle school and high school and college, and even at really young age, at 6th grade I would have kids say things to me like, there's not a single person in my life, family, friends, anybody, not a single person in my life who knows everything that's going on with me. They had so compartmentalized who they were that they were basically privatizing their identity and only letting certain people in. And, of course, technology allows them to do that. So that's really the tendency we're seeing, is, yes, they're presenting a version of themselves. They're still posting on social media, but they are very careful to make sure that you get to see the part that they actually want you to see. So it's a really interesting trend that's been going on for a number of years. Wow.

Tyler Vawser:  I think that tells for the communication directors. You might want to involve students a bit more in your social media and in the images you're posting and all of that. Right. They're probably very good at curating the best content in that way.

Andrew McPeak: 100%. They've gotten really good at that. Really good at that.

Tyler Vawser:  So that's p private, and then T is for tax. Do you want to talk about more of that?

Andrew McPeak: So when I talk about tax, I'm certainly talking about the anxiety epidemic, and that's actually old news. I first heard that term from a sociologist, anxiety epidemic back in 2016, I think was the first time I heard it. So we've been talking about this for a while. The new trend, actually, after the pandemic, is not the rise of anxiety. Anxiety is still quite high, but it's actually the rise of loneliness. Loneliness. That's the thing that all the sociologists are talking about right now, because we're seeing it at sky high levels like we've never seen before. And so I'm talking about a kid who's growing up in a world where they have access to so many forms of connection and communication and all of this different stuff, but they, at the same time, feel like there's something missing and they feel exhausted. The number one word this generation uses to describe themselves is the word overwhelmed, as in, I have so much stuff going on, I can't manage it all. And by the way, I'm 16 years old, and it's like, what in the world is going on that a 16 year old feels that way? I think for a lot of them, it's just I'm managing so much parental expectations, education expectations. My coach expects more from me than ever before. And then on top of all of that, I'm a part of this social media world in which I am constantly compared with other people, and I am just plain exhausted. I hear that from kids all over. 

You could see that in the research of everybody who's ever researched this. So taxed became my term. That's sort of the all inclusive term of just they are exhausted. They are overwhelmed. They don't feel like they can manage it all. No wonder some of them are starting to go, you know what? I don't want to manage it all. I'm going to step away from social media. I'm going to step away from expectations and some of those things that we see.

Tyler Vawser:  Yeah, really interesting. The third one I wanted to dig into was entitled. And I think every previous generation has described this about the new generation. Right. But what are you seeing when it comes to entitled with Gen Z?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, it certainly is. Like, you could go way back. And I quoted a few sources, like, literally from the 17 hundreds where adults are talking about emerging generations and going, kids today have never been so, yes, this is the oldest trend imaginable, which is adults looking at kids and going, how dare they? But I do think what's interesting about entitlement, right, is entitlement is expecting to get something just because you showed up. That's really the heart of entitlement. And I think entitlement is happening for all of us today, not just our kids. 

So, like, 100 years ago, you would not have felt entitled to indoor air conditioning. Right. Indoor plumbing. I'm pretty thankful for that. Right. All of the stuff that we get, we complain a lot about the 21st century, but the reality is it's a pretty good time to be alive in terms of all the stuff you get just because you showed up. And I think for kids today, what's really easy for us to forget is that they're growing up in a world where they get even more stuff than we grew up with and we get frustrated with kids entitled tendencies. But I think if you don't have to go too far back to realize that kids are not dealing with things that even my generation as a millennial dealt with, like, they don't have to endure that really terrible dial up sound when they get on the Internet. They just open their phone and it works. Right? They don't have to print off directions like I did when I was getting MapQuest. When I was trying to get somewhere. They just open up their GPS and tell it where they want to go. They don't even have to research a paper anymore. They just pull out, chatGPT, and it works. Right. 

So what I would say is the entitlement characteristic they're experiencing is a result of growing up in a world that we adults, maybe not us specifically talking on this podcast, but our generation of adults said, here's a better world, kids. And then we complain about them responding to that world. So it's an ironic tendency.

Tyler Vawser:  One thing I took from the book right away, and I should have known this a long time ago, but it was that kids are not born with an agenda. It's not like just because the year 2000 passed that suddenly anyone that was born came into the world saying, here are my demands, right? Like, they are not born into a vacuum. They're born into a society with parents and all of this. And I think we all know that. But it was helpful for me to read and to hear that again, just to remind, like myself, I have four kids and thinking there are going to be things that they do and ideas that they have in a life that they live that at times I will disagree with and I wish I could change. But part of that is an outcome of their experience with me. Right. 

And I think it's actually important to acknowledge that not just these kids don't have an agenda, but they're an outcome of the conditions that we as adults have created. Right. And there's a lot of complexity to that. But I thought that was really helpful because it means that one, I still have some influence as a parent, but also that I can't just put all of this on them. Right. I can't blame my kids for how they're acting. Instead, I should probably look inward and at the environment that was around them. And so I just thought that stood out right away. And again, should be common knowledge, but it's helpful to have it top of mind.

Andrew McPeak: No, I totally agree. And you'd be surprised how many people don't think about that. I don't think that's unusual whatsoever. Right. We are handing them a world and going make something of this. And when they're going to make something of this, they're going to do a few things that we expect, maybe, and some things that we don't expect. But what we have to remember is they're trying to make the best of a world that they've been handed. When we talk about generations, we often say each generation sort of has this really interesting relationship with the generations who have come before. Typically, it's a relationship with the three generations that have come before. So we think that each generation tries to break with the previous generation. 

So for Generation Z, this would be millennials. And you see this happening. Generation Z looks at millennials and goes, you guys are chewy, right? Their term for not hip, not cool, totally out of style. And they're looking at things we did and going, we can do it better. That's sort of a natural tendency that each generation looks two generations older than them and tries to correct what they see there. Especially, that's moms and dads. Right? Two generations ahead of them. And they go, I see what you were going for. You didn't quite hit the mark. So I want to fix what my parents started and kind of build off of what they did. And then what's really interesting is you see in the data and even in conversations, that oftentimes generations tend to try and replace three generations older than them. And what I mean by that is they look at their grandparents who are aging and sort of moving along, and they go, how can I keep alive some of the things that I see in that older generation?

So when I was growing up, one of the things that everybody got really into was records, right? All of a sudden, we start listening to LPs again. And that was one of those really interesting trends nobody could have seen coming. But I think in a lot of ways, what it was was an older generation looking at their grandparents and going, I don't want everything about that generation to go away. So what can we keep? What can we bring back? What can we replace? So, yeah, I think when we assume that each generation sort of just emerges and they have all these ideas. No, they get stuff from previous generations, and they're trying to make sense of it.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah, that's really good. Is there a quick way of kind of understanding the differences between millennials and Gen Z? Because, again, going back to my earlier comment, I feel like we've just kind of used millennials as a broad category for anybody younger than us. And so I'd be curious to know, what are those key differences you see between those two generations?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah. The easiest one for a sociologist to point to would be just the generation size. So millennials are the largest generation in US history, even bigger than the baby boomers. And they grew up in the late eighty s, ninety s, early 2000s, basically before 2005. Millennials grew up with a relatively expanding economy. Things were pretty good. Right? Technology is emerging, everything is awesome is basically the theme of millennials growing up. And so there's this posture, sort of the millennial way towards the world would be very open. I'm leaning into everything. All of our culture was just YOLO. Right? Do you remember that term, you only live once? It was have a good time, enjoy all of that. So millennials have changed as they've grown up and matured, and then also endured a few recessions. That tends to normalize things back. But I think that characteristic of being big and large and in charge and sort of everything is awesome has a great contrast to what we see with Generation Z, a slightly smaller population, in part because Generation Z's parents are Generation X, and that was a smaller population as well. That's obviously a generalization. Not all Gen Z parents are Generation X, but many of them, much of them are. And so their posture towards the world is a little bit, which they got from their Gen X parents, by the way, is a little bit more, I'm not sure, a little bit more. Wait and see. And you can see this in the cultural shifts that generations experience. 

So, for instance, with Generation Z, when they sort of took the stage of culture rather than YOLO, it was FOMO, right? Rather than you only live once. It was fear of messing up or fear of missing out. And so I think a lot of kids look at the world a little bit more today, a little bit more reserved, a little bit more private, a little bit more, I'm not exactly sure, kind of what's going on here. So some of the characteristics we talked about them being private, I think that's a great contrast with millennials, who are very public. Right. There is the characteristic of them being irreverent that I mentioned. Millennials wanted to fit in. Generation Z is going, no, I'm not fitting in with any of this stuff. And then another contrast would be the creative concept. I think millennials primary operation towards the world was about consuming. For Generation Z, it's, yeah, I consume for sure, but I really want to create, I want to shape and change the world. So those would be some of the biggest contrasts we see.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah, that's really helpful. 

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Tyler Vawser: Coming back for more. But first, SchoolCEO Conversations is powered by Apptegy. If you're like me, the first thing you do each morning is check your email. And the emails I look forward to the most are newsletters. Email newsletters are one of the most effective ways to reach an audience, and in particular, audiences that you don't get to talk to and see every day. Everyone from best selling authors to the largest media outlets are always pushing for you to subscribe to their newsletters because they know it gets your attention and they know that it gets read. Apptegy’s newest product is called Engage. Engage allows you to keep in touch with your community with easy to build school newsletters. Just like Thrillshare, Engage is easy to use and you can build a newsletter in minutes. You have unlimited users and sub-brands, so you can send a specific newsletter to a specific audience. Best of all, this allows you to reach community members, alumni groups and others your school needs to reach but isn't in contact with everyday. SchoolCEO's own bi-weekly newsletter called Spark, which features questions, ideas and resources to get you thinking, is sent using Engage. If you're already sending newsletters, take a look to start engaging the hardest to reach members of your community.

Now back to the conversation.

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Tyler Vawser: Before we get into your new book, Ready for Real Life, I do want to touch briefly on the book that you co-wrote with Dr. Tim Elmore called Generation Z Unfiltered. And so one of the things that was interesting about that book is that you talk about these nine hidden challenges specifically for Gen Z. And so I'd love to hear you talk about just some of those. Right. And what are the kind of the key ones that the educators, the superintendents, communication directors, the principals that are our audience, things that they're going to resonate with and say, oh, I absolutely see those challenges all the time.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, it was really important to us that in talking about Generation Z, we didn't go, they're all terrible and they're doomed. We actually don't feel that way at all. I think Generation Z is amazing. When we talk about challenges with them, we're not saying, here's a characteristic that's really terrible. Instead, what we're realizing is the world that they're being handed is often giving them things without balancing out those characteristics. And so what we did with these nine hidden challenges we talked about in Generation Z, unfiltered, is we talked about competencies or realities that they have that are often missing a balancing reality. So each of the nine challenges is blank without blank is kind of how we structured them. 

So I'll give you a few examples. One of them is empowerment without wisdom. Empowerment without wisdom. So think about it this way. Today's kids are more empowered than any generation ever before. So they have more information and opportunity at their fingertips. Empowerment is a great thing. That's not a bad characteristic whatsoever. I actually love how empowered these kids feel. But think about empowerment coming without wisdom. Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge. And what we saw is lots of these kids are very empowered with information and opportunity, but they've never actually put any of this into practice. It's all virtual reality. For them. And so kids are often missing the practical wisdom that comes from applying the knowledge that they have. And so we just said, hey, we've got to balance that empowerment with a little bit of wisdom, right? So let's give them real world experiences that help them start to realize what they can do with some of the power they've been given.

Another one would be stimulation without ownership. So in this one, we talked about kids having very stimulated lives today, and we're talking about all the things they're involved in. So they go from school to soccer practice to violin lessons, and then they get home, scrounge up some food really quick, and then do homework until 10:00 p.m. And then off to bed. So their days are so rigidly structured, full of stuff. And what we see really interesting in the data is that kids feel less and less ownership over their life. Their days are so rigidly scheduled. Moms and dads are keeping Google calendars for their kids. And so kids are looking at their life and going, this is mom and dad's life. This is not my life. And that lack of ownership tends to cause them to disassociate with the things, so they don't feel responsible for anything that they're doing. So we said, hey, stimulation, not bad. It's okay that they have long resumes, but let's balance that with some ownership where we sit down with them and Go, what do you want to do? Right. Where are you headed? What goals do you have? And could we match up the schedule we're giving you with some of these things? And we just saw a lot of times that's missing.

I'll give you one more. This one's really great. Opportunity without resilience. Today's kids have so many opportunities at their fingertips, so many things that they can do, experiences that they can have. What's really interesting is rather than making the most of all those opportunities, instead there's this growing trend of more and more kids getting paralyzed. Choosing to live in their parents basement is sort of the idea, or just getting paralyzed with, you know what? I got a 9-5 job. Let's just stick with this. And they're not really chasing all the opportunities that are in front of them. In other words, it's a lack of resilience, a lack of going. I want to take risks. I want to step out. I want to show some grittiness. That was a really big topic for us in this chapter. And so we just said, hey, what if we could help them figure out how to build a little grit and resilience that would help them make the most of all the opportunities they have at their fingertips. 

So again, in each one of these, this is a really great competency, a really great reality that kids have. We just have to balance it. And a lot of times that balancing scale is sort of off in the 21st century, and we need to act to change it.

Tyler Vawser: I really like how you put that, especially that these challenges don't mean there's anything wrong with someone, but there's this other side of it that's balanced and those things. You can create that balance. You have to be intentional. You probably need help, you need community. But it is possible to balance that empowerment and add more wisdom to that. Right. You don't want to take away empowerment. You just need to increase that wisdom.

Andrew McPeak: Absolutely.

Tyler Vawser: How did you get into this, Andrew? I'm curious to know what sparked this kind of journey for your career. How did you get into studying generations and helping leaders understand how to better equip the students that they're working with?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, I've always had a passion for the emerging generations, even when I was among the emerging generations, because I just thought, it's so interesting. How are you supposed to figure out how to navigate all of this stuff that we have to navigate? But in college, my senior year, I came across a book written by Dr. Tim Elmore, who founded Growing Leaders organization I work for now. He first wrote on generations with a book called Generation IY Back in 2010. And that book was really talking about the contrast between the first half of the millennials born in the millennials born in the was really interesting. All the sociological data that showed that they were actually quite different, creating really the first kind of micro generation. So he called that micro generation of kids born in the 90s, Generation IY, sort of the Y generation that was born with the Internet. And so that was the first time I really understood, wow, the times you grow up in have a tendency to affect the way you see the world. And that's really what generations are about. Right. There's a little bit of art and a little bit of science in generations. I think any sociologist would tell you that we do a really good job of over generalizing when it comes to generations. 

But I think where generations become helpful is in helping us have greater empathy for one another, honestly. And that was sort of my foray into it. I read that book. My background is really in curriculum and presentation design. But when I started working with Tim, it's now been eight years ago, we started digging into all of the sociological stuff. And he kind of came to me when I first started working with him and said, what if we did a Generation Z thing together? So he did the Generation Y thing, and then I got to be there for the Generation Z thing. And so it really has been, for me, a learned art and really built off of spending a ton of time. I've done literally hundreds of focus groups with middle school and high school and college age kids reading all of the books by all of the PhDs who know even way more than I do. 

And when we talk about generations of growing leaders, what we think of ourselves as standing in between the gaps, between the researchers who are really smart, but who don't really know how. The data point they just put out affects the average teacher in a classroom, and then the teacher who is so busy, they don't have time to go read that report and figure out what to do with it. So we really stand in the gap between those two people and go, let's take what these guys are saying over here, spend some time in focus groups, figuring out what does that mean for the kid on an average day, and then offer some advice to adults about how to lead them better.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah. That's fantastic. Well, let's dig into your newest book, Ready for Real Life? Unpacking the Five Essential Soft Skills Great Leaders Instill in Their Students. One thing to note about this book for the audience is that while it's about young people, students today, it's really more about equipping the leaders who are working with them. Right. And I think there's a difference there. And so one thing I enjoyed about the book is that it's not as focused on achievements or the next step. Right. It's not about getting good grades in elementary school to get into the good middle school, to get into the good high school, the college, the good job. Right. It's not this kind of chasing, chasing, but instead, it's more about these skills that we all need to thrive throughout our lives while we're in K12, beyond that, in college, and then, obviously, for the rest of our lives. And so I'd be curious to hear from you, just, can you talk more about why you chose to write about soft skills in an era that's frankly, like, obsessed with visual achievement? Think about TikTok or Instagram or YouTube. We're very focused on what we see and what we can kind of put our hands on and what we can admire and acquire. But you insteAd, focused on what I would call more character skills that are going to be less observable, especially in a 15 second video.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah. To me, you're getting right at what the inspiration was behind this book. When you spend a lot of time with kids, you realize a couple of things. One is the lack of ownership thing that we just talked about. I think kids are going through life and they feel like, I am living mom and Dad's life, I am living my teacher's life. My whole world has been designed by them. And what happens is they get through college, they get into their first job. Finally it's all up to them and they feel absolutely paralyzed. They don't have any skills to function in that time. And that is reflected not only in the conversations we have with students, but also we do a whole lot with corporate America as well because they're hiring us all the time and going, please help us come and understand how to lead. These Gen Z kids who are leaving college and coming into our workplaces, and they're saying the exact same thing. Kids are very intelligent, smartest kids we've ever seen. They have no idea how to function in our workplace. They don't know how to work on a team. They don't know how to show up to work on time. They don't know how to dress appropriately. They don't know how all these and those used to be called executive functioning skills. 

But to me, what I think is really happening, the sort of inspiration behind this is a generation of kids who are growing up in a world where we have so focused on academics, and I'm not a downer on academics. I think they're actually really important. But we've so focused on academics and we've lost sight of the need for some of these skills, and we've lost sight of it in the face of a shifting culture that is making it harder and harder to find these skills naturally. So if I was a kid growing up on a farm 30 or 40 years ago, I would have learned every skill that I wrote about in this book by the age eight, right? I would have learned about hard work. I would have learned about discipline. I would have learned about goal setting. I would have learned about all of those things would have come naturally to me just because of the world I grew up in. If I'm growing up in a 21st century world with entitlement and opportunity and smartphones and where Mom's doing my schedule for me and all of that stuff, I'm not actually getting natural opportunities to build these skills. And that is going to become increasingly important.

And this was my final driving for this conversation is lots of us are talking about how we're trying to prepare kids for a world that's going to have challenges and opportunities we cannot anticipate. Right. We know kids today are going to have jobs that don't exist today. Right. So how do you get a kid ready for a world that you are not familiar with? To me, the answer is not give them lots and lots of smarts and hope they figure it out. It's give them the skills they're going to need to adapt to that new world. And what I love so much about the skills we talk about, I talk about in this book is that they are timeless. It does not matter how much the world changes, I'm always going to need self awareness. It does not matter how much the world changes, I'm always going to need self management. All of the skills that we talk about in this and then on top of all of that, research is showing more and more and more and more that there's a better connection in success in life in general between success and soft skills than there is between success and IQ or success and GPA. 

Those things are actually not as good of indicators of success as a kid who has soft skills or emotional intelligence. And so for me, it was like all of those pieces sort of came together and I went, the thing we got to be talking about here is these skills. And if kids don't have those, that's the kid who's really going to struggle in the 21st century.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah. Julie Lythcott-Hames was on the podcast earlier this season. I think it was episode 73. And she talks a lot about that. Right. I think she references probably a study that you're familiar with, which is students and kids that were responsible for chores early in life end up being far more successful later in life, regardless of GPA or academics or what schools they were in. That ability to take responsibility, follow through, take the action, is so important.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, I think that is so true. This is a very silly example, but I was watching an interview with a football coach. It's college football season as we record this. I was watching an interview with a football coach, and they said we were playing a team where their quarterback was up for a Heisman. Our quarterback grew up as a pig farmer. So I'd pick our quarterback every time. And what he was talking about is he's saying, our guy grew up with some of the gritty skills that we're looking for. And they showed up, they won the game over the Heisman contender, and I think he's pointing out what I think a lot of us realize, which is kids who are given opportunities to build some of these skills at really early ages end up, those things show up in even intangible ways sometimes later on. So you're spot on.

Tyler Vawser: You started this conversation by telling me kind of what you've been hearing from leaders, and one of those things was that teachers are tired. Right. We keep adding to the list of responsibilities for teachers, for staff, for school administrators and leaders, and I definitely see that. Right. At SchoolCEO, we're spending most of our time interviewing and talking to school leaders, and it is quite true that more and more is being put onto the plate of educators. And as we continue this conversation, I think it's important to note that so much of this has to do with parents. Right. Everything we're talking about here is not another task for educators to add to their list. Right. They obviously care about students. They want them to be successful. But I want to start bringing parents into this conversation because parents in particular can be very focused on achievements, like what's the next step? We need you to take these lessons so you can get into this. Private tutors, violin lessons next year. Right. And they're kind of got this mindset which obviously impacts how the students think for themselves and that kind of thing.

So I want to talk a little bit about this. Just maybe we go ahead and dive into it. Now. The book is very much about how school leaders and others that are working with students can help them be successful, but you're also spending some time talking with parents as well. And so what advice do you have for an educator, a school leader, as they help parents help their students. Right. So it's not all on the educator, but how can the educators empower the parents to really participate and start teaching some of these soft skills that are so important?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah. When we talk with schools, we talk about an effective school culture is really like a three legged stool. In order to have balance, you have to hit all three things and they have to all be in sync. One of those legs is the student themselves. Are we teaching the student all the skills that they need? Another one is the teacher. Right. Is the teacher in coordination with what they're dealing with? The student? And then the final leg of that stool is the parent. Right. If the parent is not in sync with what's going on in the school, then we're missing something. And I think the challenge that a lot of the schools I go to are everybody thinks it's everybody else's job. So the parent at home is looking at the teacher and going, you are the expert. So if you're an expert at teaching kids, you went to school for it, then you should also be an expert at handling this soft skill thing, shouldn't you? Right?

We often call this dry cleaner parenting. So it's just like, I go and drop my clothes off at the dry cleaner, I'm kind of going and just dropping off my kids and saying, hey, fix this. Right? And by the way, if it comes out in a way that I don't like, then I can just complain to the manager. Right? Which is what teachers or what parents are often doing, showing up and complaining about teachers, whether that's to the principal or the school board or whatever it is from a teacher's point of view. And this is pretty fair, I think lots of teachers are looking at this conversation and going, whoa, whoa, whoa. Character, discipline. Those sound like things that moms and dads should be taken care of. And to me, this is the biggest elephant in the room, in every room I'm in talking about soft skills, which is, I actually agree with you on that, teachers, this wouldn't normally be your job, but the reality is kids are entering into our classrooms missing these skills for whatever reason. Maybe it's because mom and Dad didn't step in. Maybe it's because our culture, technology, social media stepped in too much. Right. 

Whatever the reason is, we find ourselves in an impasse where a kid is in your classroom. They don't have responsibility, discipline, grit, some of the skills that we're talking about. And here's the thing. If they're missing those things, it's going to hold them back in. All the things that you're trying to do, right. You're trying to build hard skills. The hard skills aren't going to sink in as much as you want to if the soft skills aren't there. In other words, the elephant in the room is, this isn't the job you signed up for, it is the job you have. Those are two different realities that we kind of have to contend with.

So when an administrator is sitting down and talking with parents about why this is so important, especially to a group of parents who are going, whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm trying to get my kid into Harvard here, or at least a nice state college an hour or two away, we have a saying at growing leaders that I think kind of says it all to us when we think about this. We say success in school is about 75% IQ and about 25% EQ, or emotional intelligence. In other words, if you want to be successful in school, it's really about your smarts, right. How well you apply your smarts. But here's the reality. Success in Life is about 75% EQ and about 25% IQ. In other words, and by the way, every adult listening to this knows when they go to work, it does not matter how smart your coworker is. If they're driving you insane, you don't want to work with them. Their intelligence doesn't really matter. Their workplace productivity comes down a lot of times to how well they handle themselves. How much of leadership is just, frankly, communication. Right. That's a great example of that.

And so what I like to tell parents is developing your kids emotional intelligence. These skills that we're talking about is just as important as developing their IQ, because it's going to show up in ways that probably you don't expect. Years ago, I heard a really great leader and thinker, David Brooks, talk about this philosopher who talked about the difference between a resume virtue and a eulogy virtue. And to me, these are great terms to talk about with parents as well. Our resume virtues are. Those are the skills and things about us that we put on our resume. Right? This thing, I accomplished this award. I received all of that kind of stuff, GPA. I got all of that kind of stuff. And those things are really great. I don't want to knock on resumes whatsoever, but what I want to acknowledge is one day each of us is going to die. And when somebody stands up at our funeral to give our eulogy, they are not going to read our resume. They just aren't. They're going to talk about the human qualities that we possess. They were kind. They always took time to spend time with people, whatever that competency is, and just acknowledge, help parents acknowledge your child is so much more than their resume. 

And we are recognizing that we're developing a whole human being, not just a brain on a stick. And if we can create that dichotomy for parents and help them realize, oh, this is kind of a whole person development, and I need to be in sync with my school in this development, I think that gives us the best chance to have the conversation we need to have with parents.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah, absolutely. Well, let's go ahead and dive deeper into the book and talk about those five essential soft skills. So can you talk through all five, just briefly? And then let's dive into each one in more depth.

Andrew McPeak:  Yeah. So for each of the five soft skills, which, by the way, I did not come up with these people much smarter than me have been talking about. It's got so many different names. Soft skills, life skills, character skills. Sometimes they're called social and emotional skills or social emotional learning. You'll hear. Sometimes all of those things sort of come back to these five core ideas. You see it in tons of people's different research. It's all those folks trying to sum up, if you were to summarize all of the soft skills that a kid needs into five core ideas, what would they be? So they are simply self awareness. And by the way, I talk about each of these skills using a metaphor. We love metaphors and growing leaders. They're just great memory tools.

So I talk about a mirror when I talk about self awareness. The second one is self management. So how will I manage my own emotions, activities, all those things? And I talk about a map when I think about the skill of self management. The third one is responsible decision making. So how I go about solving problems, addressing issues, analyzing problems. And the metaphor I use with that one is a compass. And then the fourth skill is relationship management. How well I manage my relationships, communicate with other people, create connection with other people. And the metaphor I use here is a two way radio, sometimes called a walkie talkie. And then the fifth one is social awareness. So how well I resonate with the people around me. This is about empathy and connecting, especially with people who are different from me. And the metaphor I use there is the passport. The passport. You'll notice that each of my five metaphors are all sort of travel associated. And so the metaphor here is we're giving kids these five tools that they can put in their pack as they're going on the journey of life. And if they've got these five skills in their backpack, then they can pull out the one that they need whenever they encounter that obstacle. That's sort of the idea behind it.

Tyler Vawser: So the five, there were mirror, map, compass, two way radio, and then the last one, there was a passport, correct?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah.

Tyler Vawser: Okay, got it. Well, yeah, let's dig in on self awareness, right? And I think a big part of this maybe goes to entitlement, right? When I think about someone that's entitled, it's probably because they lack some self awareness and maybe social awareness, too, right? They're not always aware of what others expect and how that might differ from themselves. So do you want to start with that first one? The mirror of self awareness.

Andrew McPeak:  So the mirror is all about my awareness of myself. So that can come to a lot of things. My awareness of my own emotions, my awareness of my own desires, hopes, dreams, my awareness of my personality and all the things that come along with that, right? My awareness of my strengths and weaknesses. When we lack awareness and we go about out there in the world, we tend to get ourselves in a lot of trouble, right? Because we perceive ourselves differently than the world perceives us. And that's why I love this metaphor of a mirror, right? So imagine you walk into the bathroom, like, midday, and you take a glance in the mirror, and you go, oh, no, right? How long have I looked like this? Maybe your collar is messed up or you got something in your teeth or your hair is disheveled or whatever it is. And all of us have been in that position, right? In that moment. The mirror is telling us the truth about ourselves. 

So imagine the same scenario. I walk into the bathroom, and for whatever reason, there is no mirror in that bathroom. I would walk out just as oblivious as I was before, right? Without the mirror, there's nothing there to actually tell me the truth. And it would be great if each of us could walk around with a whole bunch of friends and coworkers and family who served as mirrors to us, who would go, hey, you're kind of being a jerk right now, or you're kind of being this right now, right? It would be really awesome if we were surrounded by mirror people, but the reality is, we just can't guarantee that. And so what I really am challenging adults to do in this chapter is to ask, how can I teach my students to become their own mirrors, to stop every now and again and go, man, I really reacted in that scenario. I wonder why? What's going on? Or, I'm feeling off what's going on inside of me right now? Or I just really enjoyed that thing that I just did. What is it about that that I enjoyed so much, right? 

All these things come back to self awareness. And when we possess self awareness, it's like a mirror for us to stop. Take a look at. Go, whoa, something's off. I need to make an adjustment. And then I could go about my business. And there's far too many kids, I think, running around without mirrors, and we really got to give them to them today.

Tyler Vawser: It's interesting to hear you say that after the conversation we've had up to this point, right? Because you talked about loneliness, that private side of kind of managing how other people see you. And it sort of comes at no surprise that someone would be lacking self awareness if they're surrounded by fewer people. And the people that do see them see, for lack of a better word, a manufactured version or a curated version of who they are, right? So all these things are connected.

Andrew McPeak:  I totally agree. I totally agree. We are raising kids in a world giving them tools to basically not have to be self aware in order to function. Right? All of that technology, all the social media, the filters they have, all that stuff, they serve as barriers of us not having to wrestle with the challenge of being with people face to face and the reality of not getting to do some of those things. So I think you're exactly right. So much of the world they're growing up in is sort of conditioning some of these challenges.

Tyler Vawser:  I'm thinking about myself as a parent. How much of self awareness is taught seeing someone else kind of walk themselves kind of openly through kind of their day. Right? Like, I'm sorry that I was frustrated. Here are the things that happened through my day, and I think this is part of the reason why I came across that way, or I'm just so excited, but here's why. These are the conversations that you didn't see that were happening when I was at work or when I was with my friends. And so let me kind of walk you through my perspective, my eyes, or you can walk in my shoes a little bit, because I think sometimes we're so efficient, so busy running from one thing to the next, that as adults, we're not giving students, our kids, young people, a chance to really see how we're processing things. And so they kind of imagine they're the only ones that don't know how to process this thing, or they don't really even know where to begin. When it comes to being self aware.

Andrew McPeak: Tyler, I think you're 100% on track. In fact, Dr. Adam Saenz, he wrote a great book called the EQ Intervention. We actually interviewed him for a podcast we do. He's a brilliant, brilliant. But he actually says what you just said in even stronger terms. He says, adults are a living intervention for the kids around them. In other words, the absolute best tool each of us adults possess to communicate these soft skills to our kids, the students that we work with every day, is to live them out in front of them. There is no better tool than that. So, yeah, you can put it into a curriculum. You can teach it during homeroom or whatever class you have, but the most important thing you can do is live these things out in front of them. Absolutely.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah. That's really interesting. What about self management? That's the next one. And that's the map.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah. Self management. I love this idea of the map. Self management. You would probably guess about what this is. This is about discipline. This is about goal setting. It's about taking responsibility. It's about managing your time. All of those things kind of fit under self management. The metaphor of the map is pretty simple to understand, especially if you've ever been on a hiking trip. So a few years ago, this is actually what inspired this. A few years ago, I went on a hiking trip with a group of guys in Colorado. Four days. All your stuff's on your backpack, and luckily we had with us a guide, right? So if you would imagine that you're getting a group of students ready, a group of younger people ready to go on a hike, and it happens to be in territory that you've been in before, if you were to ask how I'm going to get these kids ready, the first inclination you might have is you would get out a map and you would go, okay, well, I'm going to show you the route I took when I went out there, right? So you get out the map and you draw it out, all out, and you go, okay, I would go here and then I would go around this mountain, and then I would camp out here, right? And you give them all this very practical advice and you think, hey, I've been out there. I've done this before. 

So I'm giving you the absolute best advice that I can give. What you've actually done is prepared them for your trip. You haven't prepared them for their trip because what happens if they're carrying around your map, if they get out into that wilderness territory and the path is blocked, what happens if they get out there and they're not going as fast as you went and they can't make it to the campsite before nightfall? What do they do? Right? In other words, I think the best way to get students ready for a journey that they're going to go on is to hand them the map, is to go, here's the map, where do you want to go? And I'm going to offer you some advice along the way and go, hey, I would avoid this area. Here's four or five good camping spots. If you happen to make it there. Here's some advice about what to do if you get into a scenario like this, right? 

But I think the biggest lesson we need to learn in terms of helping students manage their own time, manage their own calendar, manage their own life is we'Ve got to hand them the map. We've got to ask them, where are you trying to go and how can I help you get there? We've got to stop being the hero and start being the guide. It's the Yoda to their Luke Skywalker. Some listeners just finally got it when I shared that example. But that's really what I think self management is all about. The reason kids aren't taking ownership of their life, aren't taking responsibility of their life is because we spend too much time as adults doing it for them. And I think we've got to stop doing that.

Tyler Vawser: And the third one is responsible decision making. And that's the compass.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah. If you think about how we get around in our world today, almost nobody ever uses a compass, right? Instead, we use a GPS. GPS is turn by turn instructions. And I think kids today are growing up in a GPS world. They get turn by turn instructions from every adult around them. But if you were to drop a kid into the middle of the wilderness like we've been talking about, and all they had was a GPS, that thing might as well be a brick in their hands, right? What they're really going to need, if they're going to be able to navigate that unknown territory is they need a compass. And what a compass does is it points toward magnetic north. 

So really, when we say we're giving our kids a compass, we're helping them learn to make responsible decisions. What we're actually saying is we're helping them figure out what their own north is. And I think a student's north is made up of their own core values. It's who I want to be, no matter what situation I'm in in the future. I think it is almost criminal today that kids would go all the way through being parented, all the way through the education system, arrive out the other side into, quote unquote, adulthood and not have any clue who they are, not have any clue about their strengths, not have any clue about their core values. What kind of person do I want to be? I think kids have to answer that question, and the way I often tell adults to talk about this with students is how to help them find their core values is to ask them this question. If your best friend was asked to describe you, if your best friend in the world was asked to describe you in just a couple of words, what are the words you hope they would use to describe you? 

And I think typically a kid's answer to that question is probably getting towards their core value. Right. I would want my friend to say I was kind or I was wise or I was creative or I was artistic, or whatever it is, whatever words come out of that conversation probably are helping that kid identify what their north is, and then you can go, you know what? You're going to be just fine. If you enter into unknown territory, you have no idea how to handle that new job or that new relationship or that new situation that you're facing. Just remember who you are and it'll give you direction even in that unknown territory. I think that's how we help kids make better decisions.

Tyler Vawser: I'll be using that at the dinner table tonight. Thank you. That's helpful.

Andrew McPeak: Good.

Tyler Vawser: All right. The fourth one is the relationship side of it. So relationship management. And I think you use the example of a radio or a two way radio here.

Andrew McPeak: Absolutely. Yeah. Relationship management is kind of a boring term. It's the academic term for this competency. But this is really all about how well I build relationships and how well I maintain the relationships in my life. So if you've ever used a two way radio, you know how this thing works, right? A real walkie talkie has a couple of features. And if you don't know how those things work, you are not going to succeed in communicating on one of these things. The first one is that it has channels, right? And I have to be on the same channel with the person I want to communicate with. This is a whole lot like connecting with somebody if I have a lot of great things to say, but I'm on channel one and you are on channel three, my message is not going to get through. And I don't know if you've ever been in a conversation like this, but I'm talking to somebody, I share something with them, and they are on a totally different emotionally register. They pivot to whatever they want to talk to. And you're like, did you even hear anything that I just said to you? I think that's somebody who has not learned how to get on the same wavelength with other people. The other thing about a two way radio is that you can't talk and listen at the same time. Right? When I hold that button down and I start talking, the other person cannot talk at the same time. If we both try and talk at the same time, we're not going to hear each other whatsoever. 

And so learning when to talk and when to listen is about the skill of communication. And the skill of relationship building really comes down to those two things. Connection with other people and communication with other people. How well do I create lines of communication? How well do I understand when I need to stop talking and start listening? And do I practice what a lot of people call listening skills, which is when I'm learning or leaning into whatever that person is telling me, I'm responding back both verbally and nonverbally to show them I understand what they're saying. All of that comes back to that idea of the two way radio. And when kids develop this, what they find is loneliness starts to decline. Some of those lack of social skills, lack of connection, all of that stuff starts to decline. But when all of my communication has been digital, I haven't really learned the skill of using this two way radio.

Tyler Vawser: It's a really strong analogy. Yeah, I really like that. I wonder if Gen Z knows what two way radios are. Maybe we need to bring those back.

Andrew McPeak: We might.

Tyler Vawser: Well, yeah. The last one here is about social awareness, and I think you use the example of the passport.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah. If you've ever traveled in another country, you realize how important the passport is, right? I think I might know where mine is now, but I'm not really sure because I'm in America. I don't have to carry that thing around with me. But when I spent. I spent a summer in India several years ago, more than a decade ago, and when I was there, that passport was around my neck every single day. Right. Because it provided important context about where I was from and who I was and all of that. And it became most relevant when I was in unknown territory for myself. A passport is made up of two pieces of our identity, and those two pieces of our identity give us context as we interact with the world around us. Right? So the front part of our passport, I like to call that our inherited identity. If you ever looked at the front of your passport, you literally chose nothing about what's on there. You didn't choose what you look like. You didn't choose what your name was. You didn't choose what country you were born in or your birth date. None of that stuff was your choice. And each of us inherits an identity from where we grew up, from our parents, from the school we went to, or the community we grew up in. Those things are all inherited. We have to acknowledge them. They are a piece of who we are. But the other piece of who we are is in the rest of that passport. 

The rest of that passport is filled with stamps. And those stamps are the different places we've been. They're the different experiences that we've had, and they, too, make up who we are. Rather than it being my inherited identity, I call that our adopted identity. That's the Me I choose to be. It's the experiences I chose to go on and the places I chose to go, the friends I picked for myself. And really, it's the combination of those two things, the things about me I didn't choose and the things about me that I did choose. And when those two things come together, those things give me context for how to interact with the world around me. Right. So if I grew up in a high socioeconomic area and I'm interacting with somebody from a low socioeconomic area, I'm acknowledging the difference in how we grew up, the difference in our identity should change, maybe adapt how we communicate with one another. Right. True. Social awareness starts with understanding myself, so then I can better understand the people around me. One of the core competencies under social awareness is empathy. And I think empathy starts by me understanding me and the context I grew up in, so I have better empathy for the people I'm interacting with every day.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah, that's fantastic. Well, there's so much more in the book, and we'll definitely link to the book in the show notes. For those of you that haven't read it and want to take a look, really encourage you to do it, and we'll make that easy to find in the podcast notes. Well, Andrew, maybe my last question for you here is, what would you like to see become part of the conversation about students and Gen Z today? So you're talking about teaching soft skills to our kids and bringing families and school leaders together. What do you want to see be part of the conversation? That those different groups, the students, the families, the school leaders, what do you want them to start talking about?

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, you've actually already referenced it on the podcast. I think as we spend more time with kids, we realize nobody's spending time with kids. I think so many times we build policies, we write curricula, we come up with all of these ideas, and we do so in a vacuum. And that vacuum, the thing that it's missing is the kids themselves. If one of the biggest challenges we're facing today is the students lack of ownership, I think the way we address it is by getting them in the conversation is by sitting down with them and going, hey, right now we have skyrocketing disciplinary instances in our school right now. Grab some of your kids who are doing well and ask them what they think we should do to address the problem. Right. 

I just think we're not evolving kids enough in the conversations we're having about kids. And in my experience, doing all of these focus groups that I've done over the last several years, you would be shocked and surprised by how insightful and how wise and how thoughtful these kids are about themselves, about the culture that they're growing up in. I mean, I had a fascinating focus group conversation last spring where I had a group of high school students talk to me about how with no adults around whatsoever, they had a three hour conversation with their friends trying to decide whether or not they were all going to get rid of social media together. And nobody prompted them for that. They were just sitting around going, you know what? I spend time on Instagram and I feel worse about myself. Maybe there's something going on there, right? And that's what I am experiencing in all the conversations I'm having is kids are so intelligent. They're actually quite wise for their age. And sure, they are missing a lot of the skills that we've been talking about. And not every idea they're going to bring you is going to be gold. But I think we've got to start getting down into their sort of world and going, hey, what do you guys think we should do about this? We don't have to take all of their advice, but I think we do need to ask for their advice.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah, I love it. That's a really good place to end it. I also would add to that teachers are the ones that are spending the majority of the time with these students. And maybe a little bit of an unfortunate reality. As a dad, I spend less time with my kids than my kids do with their teachers. But teachers have so much insight into that as well. But I love the idea of bringing the kids into the conversation. They're the focus of the conversation, but they're not always part of it.

Andrew McPeak: Yeah, I think that's so true. So true. Tyler, thanks so much for inviting me, man. This has been awesome.

Tyler Vawser: Yeah. Andrew McPeak, thank you so much for joining SchoolCEO Conversations. I really enjoyed it. 

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